Roger Cushwa worked as a mechanic at a Myrtle Beach, S.C., shop that specialized in repairing Mercedes Benz and BMW automobiles before becoming an estate manager for the wealthy.
Since pursuing estate management classes at the Starkey International Institute for Household Management in Denver four years ago, Cushwa has worked for three families.
"I felt it was my true calling,” said Cushwa.
An estate manager is like a butler, with the added responsibilities of managing multiple properties and being responsible for a budget that can range from $500,000 to millions of dollars a year, depending on the estate.
Their employers—they’re often called “principals”—are wealthy individuals worth a minimum of $750 million—a demographic that is growing in population around the world, according to those in the industry.
“What I offer principals that they cannot buy is time,” said Cushwa, who is president of the Domestic Estate Management Association (DEMA) in the Tri-State New York area. “If you don’t have to find someone to fix the leaky faucet, change light bulbs or take care of travel arrangements, it creates time.”
And principals pay top dollar to employ an estate manager with the quality of discretion—for example, staff who won’t use the pool when the family goes on vacation.
“It probably happens more often than principals are aware of, but it’s the estate manager’s responsible to stop it or ,better yet, prevent it,” Cushwa told Private Wealth.
An estate manager’s salary typically ranges from $85,000 to $150,000, but it can be higher, according to DEMA, which was founded seven years ago to assist with education.
“In some cases, depending on the job description and the number of properties that an individual is managing, we have seen salaries reach $200,000,” said Matthew Haack, global president and co-founder of DEMA.